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Reflections on Tutor Humility [by a Recovering Engineer]

What is the most important attribute of a classical, Christian tutor? Mastery of academic material, expertise in classical pedagogy, and the expression of natural charm or charisma in the classroom characterize a desirable tutor to some parents. Extraordinary biblical knowledge, administrative excellence, and clear communication skills define a highly sought-after tutor to others. Some would argue humility in the life of a tutor is required while others believe humility is an incidental benefit. Individually, humility in the nature of a tutor is hard to obtain. Humility in the life of a classical, Christian tutor is imperative for three reasons: humility allows tutors to support families in a mentoring relationship, humility permits honesty to permeate the lessons in the classroom, and humility invites the Holy Spirit to do His work in the lives of the tutor, students, and parents.

It is necessary to define tutor and teacher. On the surface, there is not a great divide between the two professions. However, digging deep down into the thought process of each, a difference exists. Both tutors and teachers exchange information with students with the hope of exacting truth, goodness, and beauty in the pupil’s thoughts and behaviors. Both have affection for their students and care for their intellectual and emotional well-being. Both study and prepare lesson plans. The divide lies in ownership. The tutor owns an hour of the student’s life to introduce new ideas or concepts, to begin a conversation, or to bring clarity to previously covered material. Students are not accountable to tutors for completing assignments or knowing the mind of the tutor. In contrast, the teacher owns a majority of the student’s time, finishes conversations, assigns and requires completed assignments, and applies grades to student work. The student is tasked with knowing the mind of his teacher and then moving beyond it. The teacher holds the student accountable in a way that the tutor cannot by guarding the passage to the next educational voyage. How then does the tutor go about her job of tutoring with so many differences from the teacher? Just as every man presides over his home yet is not the president, the tutor employs the art or craft of teaching yet is not the teacher of the student. Together, the tutor, teacher, and student are a synergistic trinity.

Humility in the life of a classical, Christian tutor allows her to support families in a mentoring relationship. Understanding her role delivers great freedom in the classroom to the tutor. Her time is not consumed grading papers and becoming a master of each seminar’s nuances. Instead, she pours herself into prayer and discussion preparation for the class day. Humility allows her to mentor not only the student but also their parents. She walks alongside the family, urging them to follow their path. The humble tutor encourages parents to continue the hard work of parenting and equips them for the unique journey God has given them, not insisting they follow her plan. As a tutor comes to know Christian love for students and parents, she extends grace to families who choose to not complete all the assignments in the prescribed curriculum or perform above average in class. All of these perspectives build to the climax of the tutor honoring the parents, thus leading the children to do the same.

Humility in the life of a classical, Christian tutor permits honesty to permeate the lessons in the classroom. Humility permits tutors to reveal their academic weaknesses. With a right estimation of herself, a tutor models for students how to learn an unknown instead of playing the part of an omniscient adult. She is free to relate to students the strategies and techniques she used to learn the material and to share moments of struggle and victory. Classroom discussion occurs instead of lectures as the humble tutor senses her place as a facilitator in the classroom instead of the primary deliverer of facts. As the tutor lives in a place that positions God as the Creator and Originator of everything good and perfect, student successes or Pentecost moments are seen as gifts from God instead of manufactured human occurrences.

Humility in the life of a classical, Christian tutor invites the Holy Spirit to do His work in the lives of the tutor, students, and parents. The Holy Spirit is allowed to do His work via the unique partnership and individual lives of the tutor, parents, and students. Students sense the restful state of the tutor and feel safe in the classroom. They are more willing to speak their minds and reveal deeply held and previously unspoken beliefs. Frequently, the tutor communicates these thoughts to the teacher for evaluation and correction if needed. Humility frees tutors from expectations of complete academic mastery in the classroom. Pressure to achieve class wide passing test scores, which is not an expectation for a tutor, is not transmitted to the students. Total dependence on God drives the humble tutor to constant and fervent prayer for her students, parents, and herself.

Humility in the life of a classical, Christian tutor is imperative because humility allows tutors to act as tutors in the classroom, humility permits honesty to influence the lessons in the classroom, and humility invites the Holy Spirit to do His work in the lives of the tutor, students, and parents. Humility in tutors' lives allows them to please Jesus and obey His command to love their neighbors.

CATEGORIES: Articles, Big Ideas: Truth, Beauty, Goodness and more!, Classical Christian Education, Homeschooling Life

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